Bougainville guns: Concerns stolen firearms continue being used for illegal activities

2:15 pm on 19 April 2024
Homemade guns confiscated by or surrendered to police in Alotau.

Homemade guns confiscated by or surrendered to police in Alotau in Papua New Guinea earlier this year. (file image) Photo: Waikaidi

Hundreds of high-powered firearms - allegedly stolen from weapons disposal sites - are still in use today, the police chief in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville says.

For years, after the signing of the Peace Agreement in 2001, the UN had overseen a process of voluntary weapons disposal, with the aim of ensuring the safety of communities.

The Post-Courier reports those guns were eventually to be destroyed.

Speaking during this week's arms control workshop in Port Moresby, Francis Tokura said only about 400 firearms were surrendered and disposed when the UN conducted this exercise.

He said many of these were removed from the disposal bins and remain in use.

Tokura said they are being used for criminal activities, sometimes in other parts of PNG.

He said there are also illegal arms being smuggled over Bougainville's border with Solomon Islands.

The Post-Courier reported Tokura saying his officers lack the mechanisms to monitor the movement of these guns into the country.

He said this has sparked more gun violence, including the ongoing dispute between two factions of the Me'ekamui movement in the south of the main island.

That fighting had led to one death and the destruction of a number of businesses, including the local studios of New Dawn FM.